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Digital Archive International History Declassified

December 07, 1955

JOURNAL OF SOVIET AMBASSADOR TO THE DPRK V. I. IVANOV FOR 7 DECEMBER 1955

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    Ivanov speaks with Kim Il Sung about the proceedings of the most recent KWP CC plenum. The plenum touched upon plans to improve North Korea’s agriculture sector. Ivanov describes in length Kim’s accusation of Chinese and Soviet Korean party members of undermining the party leadership. Ivanov advises against categorizing party members as Soviet, Chinese, or local.
    "Journal of Soviet Ambassador to the DPRK V. I. Ivanov for 7 December 1955," December 07, 1955, History and Public Policy Program Digital Archive, RGANI Fond 5, Opis 28, Delo 412. Translated by Gary Goldberg. http://digitalarchive.wilsoncenter.org/document/120764
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SOVIET EMBASSY IN THE DPRK        

Secret

Copy Nº 3

[USSR MFA Far East Department stamp:

[[4865]]s

31 Dec 55]

JOURNAL

OF SOVIET AMBASSADOR IN THE DPRK Cde. V. I. IVANOV

for the period from 4 through 15 December

1955

Pyongyang 1955

01263

[…]

7 December

I visited Kim Il Sung at his invitation. Besides Kim Nam-il, Pak Jeong-ae, and Deputy KWP CC chairmen Choe Yong-geon and Pak Geum-cheol, newly elected at the December KWP CC plenum, were present.

Kim reported that he intended to tell about the work of the KWP CC plenum held on 2-3 December.

The first issue at the KWP CC plenum was devoted to the implementation of the decision of the November 1954 KWP CC plenum about the further development of agriculture. Kim gave a report on this issue. A target was set in a plenum decision of increasing the gross grain harvest to 2,700,000-2,800,000 tons for 1956.

Another important issue in the improvement of agriculture is the construction of irrigation systems. We have set the task of building not only large state irrigation systems, but also the construction of small systems with the personnel and equipment of the peasants themselves and the cooperatives. In 1956 irrigation systems will be put in operation at the cost of 1,700,000 won. A task is also being given to develop irrigation measures for 1957.

On the issue of the cooperation of agriculture Party bodies are faced with the main goal of a further organizational and economic strengthening of existing cooperatives. At the same time, where conditions have become ripe it is being permitted to accept new members into existing cooperatives and organize new ones on the strict principle of voluntary participation. According to reports of the chairmen of provincial Party committees 60-65% of peasant farms throughout the country will be cooperated in 1956. The plenum warned that those who allow a violation of the principle of voluntary participation will be punished.

The plenum devoted a large place to the production to all kinds of fertilizer. The Party committees of those cities and provinces where mineral fertilizer is produced have been charged with taking their production under their constant control. The Party committee of the province of South Hamgyeong was charged with aiding the construction of new workshops at the Heungnam Chemical Works to produce ammonium nitrate, and the need for a broad use of peat, ash from the production of calcium carbide, and other local fertilizers was pointed out to local Party committees.

Plenum decisions defined the tasks of Party organizations of the republic to produce farm implements, keep labor in the countryside, develop animal husbandry, silk production, gardening, and other sectors of agriculture.

According to a statement of Kim Il Sung all the participants of the plenum unanimously approved the plenum's decisions. At the present time the leaders of the provinces are refining the agricultural development plans for 1956 together with Gosplan by province [v razreshche - SIC].

Kim Il Sung declared that we will be able to familiarize ourselves with this issue in detail from the plenum materials which they will pass to the Embassy.

2. [SIC, there is no 1. in the text] The discussion about the Party discipline of Pak Il-u and Kim Yeol was the second issue.

Pak Il-u, a former member of the KWP CC Political Council, committed many anti-Party acts. During the war he was a representative at the joint headquarters of the Korean-Chinese troops. There he began to create a group of Chinese Koreans and had ties with Pak Heon-yeong elements. A decision about recalling him from work in the headquarters was made in connection with such anti-Party behavior. The issue about him was discussed in the CC and at a plenum, after which he was appointed to the post of minister of communications.  However, he did not take the warnings into consideration and did not correct himself. He regarded the appointment to the post of minister of communications as an insult, viewing his ministry as insignificant. He did not cease anti-Party activity and organized Chinese Koreans around him, got drunk with them, and aligned them against the CC. When Pak Heon-yeong was exposed [razoblachen] at the 5th CC plenum the Chinese comrades also exposed Pak Il-u.

As far as I know, Kim declared, Pak Il-u opposed all our comrades, Kim Chaek, Choe Yong-geon, Pak Jeong-ae, and others at the same time as he was taking those who had committed crimes under [his] protection. Frankly speaking, he behaved completely incorrectly.

Why did Pak Il-u become such a person, why did he oppose those who worked with Kim Il Sung? What political differences did we have with him?

After the offensive of our troops, Kim continued, when we drove away the Americans, we waged a fierce battle with the reactionaries which remained in our rear, but before this [they] were shooting our people. The Americans said that we will leave temporarily and return in the spring. It was necessary to fight the American stooges. Pak Il-u was against this policy, against active operations to put down the reactionaries. We made a decision but he opposed them [SIC] behind our backs.

Another issue was the question of tax policy. In places there have been instances of distortions of tax policy, excesses, and high-handed administrative methods. Making use of these facts, Pak opposed the tax policy as whole behind the scenes, and did not suggest anything.

Being in the joint headquarters he strived to extend his influence in the army, organized the Koreans coming from China, and put them in senior positions. They came and reported to the CC about this, stating that they had come to Korea not for Pak Il-u and did not trust him, but had come to carry out revolutionary work under the Party's leadership.

Kim said we all know that during the war many officials of MVD organs had previously fled before others during the retreat. Instead of organizing an evacuation they abandoned the people and left. All the people talk about this. When in the post of Minister of the MVD, Pak Il-u did not take steps to strengthen discipline in the organs and other organizations. He opposed this policy and criticism of the shortcomings of the MVD organs.

Then Kim said that during the war during a meeting between Razuvayev and Peng Dehuai, the latter said that in connection with the fact that the Korean army had suffered badly and needed rest and regrouping before impending combat operations, Pak Il-u interpreted his words such that the Korean army had shown itself badly in its battles and ought not to be sent to forward positions. Razuvayev objected to this and the misunderstanding was eliminated only after the inaccuracy of the translation was discovered. Kim drew the conclusion that Pak Il-u wanted to drive a wedge into relations between the USSR and the PRC by causing Peng Dehuai and Razuvayev to quarrel.

Considering that the KWP CC knows about the anti-Party actions of Pak Il-u from Soviet advisers working in the MVD he also spoke against his own Soviet advisers.

Pak Il-u was very close to the exposed anti-Party element Pak Heon-yeong. Everyone knew about the close ties between Pak Il-u and Pak Heon-yeong.

Common moral dissolution is one of the reasons for his anti-Party behavior. Whoever heard of [a thing] when the minister of internal affairs organized a dance party in the ministry, got drunk, and brought female singers into the ministry. This ministry was permitted to have trade enterprises for the purpose of ties with the south, but Pak squandered the money given for this, using it for his own needs and for drunkenness. He was criticized, however he did not take it correctly, concealed [his] dissatisfaction, and began to settle personal scores.

He was recalled from the MVD and sent to the Joint Staff of the army, where he also engaged in anti-Party matters, and also did not change his behavior in the Ministry of Communications.

After the April KWP CC plenum Pak Il-u was removed from work and a group of officials was charged with dealing with his case. In conversations with these comrades he did not reveal his mistakes and did not condemn his anti-Party actions. Therefore the KPK [Party Control Commission] examined his case and submitted it for the approval of the CC plenum, where the decision was made to expel Pak Il-u from the party and the KWP CC.

The following was the personnel file of Kim Yeol. Kim Yeol arrived in Korea with Soviet troops as an interpreter during the liberation of Korea from the Japanese invaders.

At that time he, Kim Il Sung, addressed a request to the command of the Soviet Army, and being in Moscow, to Cde. Stalin, for help with experienced officials. Some officials were sent from the Soviet Army, and part arrived from the Soviet Union. The majority of Soviet Koreans work well. After transferring to Korean service Kim Yeol was appointed chairman of the Party committee of the province of South Hamgyeong, but he behaved incorrectly there. During his wedding he organized gifts for himself in all the districts, and even took bulls. He was called "tsatsionda" there, that is, king of the swindlers.

Hegai, a friend and buddy of Kim Yeol, who concealed the outrageous acts of Kim Yeol, was in the post of Chief of the KWP CC Organization Department at that time. When Hegai was transferred to work as Deputy Chairman of the KWP CC he recommended Kim Yeol for the post of Chief of the KWP CC Organization Department. During the month and a half of work in the CC we felt that all the officials of the KWP CC had ganged up against him; he behaved arrogantly, and had a high opinion of himself.

The war began and Kim Yeol was appointed Chief of the Rear, where he messed up the work, and lost and ruined much equipment. For this he was removed from this post and was transferred from CC member to candidate member as a punishment. Shtykov insisted that he be sent back to the USSR, but Kim Yeol went to the CC, which was then in Kanggye [Kange], to Hegai, who interceded for him and asked [him] to send Kim to partisan detachments for rectification. While he was preparing to leave an offensive of our troops began and the partisan detachments joined with the regular army.

Hegai also acted incorrectly afterwards when he recommended Kim Yeol as chairman of the Party committee of the province of Hwanghae. Kim Yeol also began to behave disgracefully in this province. He gave instructions to prepare entertainment and women before trips to districts. He himself admitted that he had had cohabitated with 19 women and had spent four million won on parties during the time of work in the province. He corrupted cadre in the district committees and fired whoever did not agree with his actions. His philosophy, that work cannot be connected with daily life and that he would have just worked well but daily life is [his] personal business, is rotten.

Instead of punishing Kim Yeol for the acts, he was appointed Deputy Minister of Heavy Industry, and then Chairman of the Central League of Consumer Cooperatives [Tsentrosoyuz]. In Pyongyang he continued his dirty deeds, brought a woman with him who turned out to be connected with the South, fired a weapon [strelyal] on the streets while drunk and ended up with the police in a drunken state.  He usually went on business trips with a woman and engaged in depravity.

Could Kim Yeol have been rectified in time? At the instruction of the CC Hegai twice inspected his work and reported that Kim was working rather well, so the CC was deceived.

After Hegai Pak Yeong-bin was appointed Chief of the CC Organization Department he also worked badly. For three years he sat in the Organization Department and declared that he did not know about Kim Yeol's actions. Kim Il Sung said, we think that Pak Yeong-bin is guilty of the Organization Department not knowing about the corruption of the senior officials, and was detached from Party members, but if he knew that he was guilty of that, he concealed it.

Kim said we have come to know about the incorrect behavior of Kim Yeol from individual Party members. However, as became known, the chief of the MVD political department and an official of the personnel department of the Party committee did not report about this to the CC from the province. Many deputies to the chief of the CC Organization Department were in the province and also reported to Pak Yeong-bin. When a new chairman of the provincial Party committee arrived in the province of Hwanghae and began to raise these issues, he was told from the Organization Department not to undermine [his] predecessor, and only when a campaign was raised at the April CC plenum to fight embezzlement did ordinary Party members then began to speak and expose Kim Yeol.

Based on the signs which had come in we sent a commission of representatives of organization departments and personnel departments to the place and charged Choe Yong-geon, as chairman of the commission to fight embezzlement, to personally look into this case. In Hwanghae people thought that Kim Yeol had been punished long ago. Kim Yeol confessed everything and gave [one word unreadable] explanation. He was expelled from the party and the CC.

It became known to the Embassy that Kim Yeol had been arrested.

3. Kim then stated that he would like to throw some light on the issue regarding some Soviet Koreans because various rumors were circulating in Pyongyang. Work was done badly among Soviet Koreans until recently and many of them have behaved completely incorrectly. We didn’t correct them in time, and didn't explain; on the contrary, the mistakes and shortcomings were covered up, and nepotism was created.

The Kim Yeol case could not have arisen if he had been rectified and criticized in time. However, this was not done in time and now it has been handed over to a court. There are many such cases when they did badly with respect to Soviet Koreans and covered up their shortcomings.

When they began to study the situation in the organization department they found how much damage Hegai had inflicted. He had gathered some Soviet Koreans around himself and had put them into managerial positions without studying their professional and political qualities. The [case] of him sending a Party candidate as chairman of the Party committee of the province of South Hamgyeong can serve as an example. He sent many officials to managerial work without coordinating with the CC leadership. He corrupted many officials with his methods and cover-ups. Party and state discipline slackened among some Soviet Koreans.

For example, having received an order from Pak Jeong-ae, Kim Yeol did not carry it out and declared that he would go to the CC and decide the issue another way. Such comrades as Kim Chan, Jeong Ryul, Gi Seok-pok also behaved incorrectly.

Some Soviet Koreans wanted to correct the matter. Kim Seung-hwa knew of the bad deeds of Hegai concerning the Soviet Union. But Hegai warned him to keep quiet about this. He repeatedly set him, Kim Il Sung, against Nam Il, when he [Nam Il] worked in headquarters. Kim said, I asked myself, why did Hegai oppose some Soviet Koreans and they began a study of Hegai.

Kim Il Sung continued, [we] also ought to talk about the situation in Korean literature since there are many discussions on this issue. Some Soviet Koreans who worked on the ideological front - Gi Seok-pok, Jeong Gwang-rok, and Jeong Ryul, began to oppose revolutionary writers and protect and praise reactionary writers without having studied the situation in Korean literature.

Writers Ri Tae-jun, Rim Hwa, and several others appeared from the south of Korea who advocated bourgeois ideology in literature. Since these writers represented the South, Pak Heon-yeong drew them to himself. Progressive Korean writers encountered resistance from reactionary writers supported by some Soviet Koreans. Dissention began. Such writers as Han Seol-ya and Ri Gi-yeong advocated for a revolution and the Korean people in all their activity. There are serious shortcomings in their work, but they still advocated for the people and revolutionary literature under Japanese oppression. Comrades who had arrived from the Soviet Union supported representatives of bourgeois literature instead of supporting the seeds of proletarian literature.

After the 5th KWP CC plenum, when Pak Heon-yeong was exposed, Korean writers began to expose the reactionary essence of Rim Hwa and others. At this time it had been suggested that Gi Seok-pok and Pak Chang-ok and others speak out and reveal the bourgeois reactionary essence of these writers. They not only did not speak out, but some of them rallied around Han Seol-ya.

Han Seol-ya opposed the errors of these comrades, and his statements were assessed as anti-Soviet acts. Many local officials began to say that if individual Soviet Koreans made mistakes in work or shortcoming in behavior and they are criticized for this, then this does not mean that they are speaking against the USSR. Han Seol-ya was accused of anti-Sovietism. This is death for revolutionaries. Local writers became indignant and came to him, Kim Il Sung, and told the real situation.

Pak Yeong-bin held a conference of writers in the CC and characterized the criticism of Soviet Koreans for their incorrect attitude toward Han Seol-ya as anti-Soviet acts. Here Kim Il Sung stated that there are about 200 Soviet Koreans who had arrived for work in the DPRK. I think that they alone do not represent and defend the interests of the USSR. While still in partisan detachments and in the entire succeeding revolutionary struggle the Korean people stood for the achievements of the October Revolution, for the USSR. We could not look into the Kim Yeol matter in time as a result of the fact that some officials spread nepotism.

Pak Yeong-bin came to him, Kim Il Sung, brought materials against Han Seol-ya, and asked they be examined. These materials were called into question and when they were checked it turned out that these materials were taken from the statements of reactionary writers exposed by the MVD.

Three times Pak Yeong-bin raised the issue of the removal from work of Seo Hwi, Deputy Chairman of the CC of Trade Unions, who had come from China and graduated from a Party school in Moscow. Pak Yeong-bin collected materials on Seo Hwi from those subordinate to him and people who were discontented for some reason. The Political Council found the materials to be groundless. It was found that Seo Hwi had correctly fought the Pak Heon-yeong riff-raff to strengthen discipline. We, said Kim, do not have information why Pak Yeong-bin acted this way, but he worked badly and did much harm. For example, Pak Yeong-bin suggested that the Political Council appoint a Party organizer, a Soviet Korean who had returned from the South from American imprisonment, without any checking. After Hegai, Pak Yeong-bin continued to cultivate nepotism in the CC.

Kim said, some words need to be said about Pak Chang-ok. After the 5th CC plenum he fought well against the Pak Heon-yeong clique. We put him on the Political Council. But then he became arrogant. Being Chairman of Gosplan he began to verbally abuse ministers, threatened to remove them from work, and began to declare them wreckers. These ministers say that they weren't so abused under the Japanese.

He was especially undisciplined during his, Kim Il Sung’s, absence. He undermined trust and respect in himself and now no one respects him or takes account of him. He permitted much bureaucratism in the planning process and did not maintain ties with the grass roots or ministries. For example, the gross grain harvest plan for 1955 was planned to be 3.6 million tons. This plan was changed many times, but just not fulfilled. [It was] the same situation with the plan for timber procurement, the production of cement, and for several other industrial sectors.

Pak Chang-ok, made a big mistake on a business trip around the country in entering into cohabitation with a worker of the Ministry of Culture. The latter, later discharged from work, let all this be known. This was not the only such case and Pak Jeong-ae had warned him earlier with respect to similar cases in his behavior.

Kim said, when I returned from vacation the question of Pak Chang-ok arose, and we thought, was there a crusade against Soviet Koreans here. But we didn't detect this. Pak Chang-ok had accumulated many shortcomings and mistakes, and now everything was taking shape. During the struggle with Pak Heon-yeong, Pak Chang-ok and Pak Yeong-bin punished many innocent people; now these people have raised their own protest.

Pak Chang-ok was repeatedly criticized in the Political Council for nepotism, and he took this criticism well. The question about him was not raised at the plenum, he needed to criticize his own mistakes.

In the conversation I raised the question, are the Korean friends not examining whether the Soviet Koreans sent to work in the DPRK of which Kim spoke are organizing a group and engaged in anti-Party affairs. Kim replied that no anti-Party group exists, but nepotism among those officials has flourished, but as is well-known, nepotism leads to cliquishness.


Then I asked whether they were not considering that the Soviet Koreans sent to work in the DPRK were not coping with the tasks assigned them and had not justified the trust of the CC. Kim replied that they do not think this since the majority of Soviet Koreans work well; here it is only a matter of some officials.

I noted that it is incorrect to divide Koreans into Soviet, Chinese, and local. If an official is at fault, then the faults of each need to be examined and corrected in time without stressing whether he is a Soviet or local Korean; then such a situation would not occur which has to be examined at the present time.

Kim Il Sung declared that in the Political Council they strictly pointed to the harmfulness of dividing officials on the principle of where they came from to work in the DPRK. But at the present time longstanding issues have flared up, at the base of which lies nepotism. The CC could not correct them in time, therefore at the present time such officials as Gi Seok-pok and some others have to criticize their own mistakes. The matter has already come to an end and I considered it necessary to inform you about this.

Then I asked the question in connection with the discussion at the plenum of the issue of agriculture and the food situation in the country for 1956. Kim replied that evidently the gross grain harvest will be 2,500,000 tons. The reduction against the usual year as a result of drought will be about 170,000 tons. Consequently, last year a number of provinces received large loans; they will not manage to recover them completely, and therefore the state will get 28,000 tons of rice less against the plan.

If one takes agricultural cooperatives, 80% of them will be supplied with grain, of which 50% will make ends meet, and 30% will have a surplus of rice. We intend to buy these surpluses of 25,000 tons for the state through consumer cooperation; 4,000 tons have already been purchased.

However, this work will mainly unfold in January, after the end of the agricultural year. They have set quite good purchase prices and some quantity of goods has been procured for the countertrade. Farms not supplied with grain will evidently have to be issued a food loan in the spring of 15-20,000 tons of grain. At the present time various jobs are being organized for such farms so that they can buy the quantity of grain they lack on the market.

Considering all these circumstances, Kim said, we are buying 150,000 tons of grain in the PRC and 50,000 tons in the USSR. Work is also being done to economize the expenditure of food products, to procure acorns and chestnuts, and other measures. The situation will be better in 1956 than in the spring of this year. At the present time the situation has changed for the better.

[…]

SOVIET AMBASSADOR IN THE DPRK [signature] (V. IVANOV)

Four copies

1 - Cde. Molotov

2 - Cde. Fedorenko

3 - Cde. Kurdyukov

4 - to file

Drafted by Ivanov

Printed M/B [SIC]

Nº 854

21 December 1955

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